Corks For a Cause: AMI kids
Editor’s Note: Each month the Destin Log will share a story from one of the charity partners benefiting from the support of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
Did you know that 3 million high school students drop out each year? One million of which are sent to prison. Once teens are jailed, there is a 75 percent chance they will become repeat offenders.
AMIkids is working to mitigate these outcomes with an effective, proven method to turn high-risk children into productive members of society. AMIkids Emerald Coast is a private, non-profit day-treatment program, serving the youth of Okaloosa and Walton counties.
Located in Fort Walton Beach, AMIkids Emerald Coast is empowering kids through care and guidance to reach their potential. AMIkids became a Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) partner in 2014. In their first year, they were awarded $75,000, which allowed them to hire additional staff to assist youth who have extensive behavioral issues.
The funding has also supported scholarship funds as well as awards and incentives for students who continue to succeed with their education and develop new skills necessary to seek employment and attend college. A portion of the funds will also be used for a new school bus to transport students safely.
“Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is honored to partner with an organization so dedicated to giving kids a second chance,” said DCWAF President John Russell. “AMIkids works every day to help youth find their purpose. They believe these kids have the potential for a bright future.”
The vision of AMIkids is to help kids in Northwest Florida separate from a troubled past and transition to a bright future. Many of these kids struggle from poverty, family strife, negative influences in the community, and what they really need is a positive voice to point them in the right direction and give them a purpose. Placing a priority on giving back to the community through impactful service, the students are often involved with projects such as beach clean-up and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, another DCWAF beneficiary.
The results are encouraging. Seventy one percent of AMIkids' participants return to school, complete their GED or enter the workforce. In addition, 77 percent of students do not reoffend within the first year.
“AMIkids Emerald Coast is enjoying the relationships that have been built as a result of being a DCWAF charity,” says AMIKids Executive Director, Audra Ray “Food For Thought now delivers backpacks to our students which has resulted in perfect attendance on Fridays and much improved behavior on Mondays. Our kids can focus because they are no longer going hungry through the weekend. The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center is assisting us to find educational tutors for our youth.”
By creating individualized plans combining behavior modification, education and treatment for each child, AMIKids is able to address family issues, academic failure, addiction, mental healthy diagnoses, and legal consequences. The program also provides resume and job interview assistance to prepare kids for the workforce as well as mentorship opportunities, giving students hope for the future.
“When I arrived at AMIkids, after two weeks, I knew I would be changed forever. I was pushed to strive to be the person they knew I could be. AMIkids has helped me in more ways than anyone could imagine, and I am excited to fulfill my potential and achieve a bright future," said Sterling, an AMIkids Graduate.
To learn more about AMIkids, see http://www.amikids.org/. For more information about the DCWAF, see http://www.dcwaf.org/.
Seventy one percent of AMIkids' participants return to school, complete their GED or enter the workforce. In addition, 77 percent of students do not reoffend within the first year.